My Brussell Sprouts Is Brown Inside: Is It Safe To Eat?

If you have cut into a Brussels sprout and found that it is brown on the inside, you might be wondering whether you need to toss it into your compost bin, or whether it’s okay to use. 

It can be hard to tell whether Brussels sprouts with brown in them are safe to eat or not. If the brown spots are localized and the flesh around them is still firm, you may be able to cut them out. However, if the spots have gone mushy or the sprouts smell bad, you will need to throw them away. 

Because it’s hard to tell when a Brussels sprout is okay to eat and when it’s dangerous, we’re going to explore the warning signs so you know whether to cook your sprouts or toss them in your compost bucket.

How Do You Tell If Brussels Sprouts Are Okay To Eat?

brussel sprouts

Brown spots in almost any kind of food can be concerning because they usually signify that the food is going off in some way. They are often the result of fungal infections, mold formation, or bruising. You should be very cautious of eating any Brussels sprouts with brown spots, especially if they also:

  • Have a strong, cabbage-like smell, even when raw
  • Have mushy spots or feel soft when squeezed
  • Are shriveled up
  • Have lost a lot of leaves
  • Have turned yellow or black on the outside
  • Have flecks of mold on the surface
  • Have a split stalk

In most cases, a little bit of browning on the outside of a Brussels sprout can be safely cut off or peeled away and discarded, but brown on the inside of the sprout is more concerning. If you cut a sprout open and find that the inside is not fresh and green, you should check for the above signs, and discard the sprout if you see some of them.

This might be frustrating, but browning can be a sign that the sprout is going off, and that mold or fungus has started attacking the inner tissues. If you eat the sprout, this mold or fungus could make you sick, and since food poisoning can send you to the hospital in serious cases, it isn’t worth risking this.

A good Brussels sprout should be green, crisp, firm, and have a fresh, leafy smell. The leaves should be tightly folded against each other, and they should snap cleanly if you bend them at the base. Sprouts that are brown, black, yellow, limp, or squashy have gone off, and should not be eaten.

What Causes Sprouts To Go Brown Inside?

Often, sprouts go brown inside because an insect has wriggled in through the stem and eaten some of the flesh inside it. This allows mold and bacteria into the stem, and it also lets chemicals leak out of the damaged cell walls. These chemicals will interact with each other and with the oxygen, and this creates browning.

Alternatively, browning can be caused by mold getting into the stem of the Brussels sprout and then traveling up into the fruit. The stem usually discolors too, but sometimes the inside loses its green first, which may make it hard to see the browning from the outside. Mold can create a variety of colors, including brown, red, gray, or black.

Sometimes, sprouts will go brown inside simply because they are old and the tissues are starting to decay. Again, this usually only happens if the sprout is showing signs of age on the outside, but it is possible for the inner tissues to decay more quickly in some situations.

In all of the above cases, the sprout is probably no longer safe to eat, and you should throw it away. If the vegetable is still firm and smells fine, cutting out the brown spots should be safe, but otherwise, compost the sprout and start again. This is safer than cooking sprouts that have gone off.

How Do You Choose Fresh Sprouts?

To avoid getting sprouts that are brown inside, you should spend some time selecting really fresh Brussels sprouts in the store. Although there are no foolproof methods for getting good sprouts, the below tips should help you choose ones that are still perfect to eat:

  • Look for tightly furled, bright green leaves
  • Buy sprouts on the stem, as these tend to stay fresher than loose ones
  • Choose small sprouts, as these are generally sweeter
  • Opt for sprouts that are kept chilled, not stored at room temperature
  • Make sure the sprouts feel firm when you pick them up
  • Smell the sprouts, and avoid any that smell like cabbage
  • Check the sprouts for cracks, pits, or holes that might suggest an insect has burrowed inside them
  • Avoid any sprouts that are brown, yellow, or have black spots

If you do all of those things, your sprouts should be good to go! Trust your senses and pick only the freshest-looking sprouts, especially if you need to keep them for a bit.

How Do You Store Brussels Sprouts?

You need to use sprouts up within about a week of purchasing them and make sure that you are storing them correctly so that they don’t rot after you have bought them.

Brussels sprouts should be kept in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator, not at room temperature. Don’t put them on the counter, as they will go off within just a couple of days. 

Refrigerate them until you are ready to wash and cook them, and you should minimize any risk of cutting them open and seeing brown patches inside! Combined with careful choosing, the proper storage technique will mean you can enjoy perfectly fresh sprouts every time.


Brussels sprouts should not be brown inside, and this is usually an indication that you shouldn’t eat them. If the sprouts have a tiny brown patch and otherwise seem firm and fresh, you can cut the brown out and eat the rest, but large brown patches, a bad smell, or mushy vegetables should not be consumed. Compost them and get some fresh sprouts

Hey there! My name is Alex and I've been vegan for over five years! I've set up this blog because I'm passionate about veganism and living a more spiritually fulfilling life where I'm more in tune with nature. Hopefully, I can use Vegan Foundry as a channel to help you out on your own journey!